Microsoft usually loves to talk numbers, but one product it has kept surprisingly quiet about is Surface RT, the company’s first ever tablet, which was released to great fanfare.

Instead we’ve had to make do with analyst estimates. One such analyst is Israel Hernandez of MKM Partners, who reckons Microsoft has moved a total of 1 million Surface RT units as of this writing.

In other words, the device is off to a slow start.

Talking to Barron’s, Hernandez cited the alarming lack of distribution (at least early on) and the lack of support for legacy Windows 8 applications as the two main reasons for the lackluster showing:

“We believe Surface RT, the ARM-based tablet running Windows 8, has been nothing short of a disappointment, given an uncompetitive price point relative to lower cost tablets such as the Kindle Fire and iPad Mini, a flawed rollout and distribution strategy, a lack of compelling applications with no backwards compatibility with x86-based Windows applications, and consumer disinterest in the new touch-based interface.”

The jaded distribution strategy bit makes total sense as Microsoft tried too hard to imitate Apple from the word go. While the Redmond giant’s marketing kept up, distribution certainly did not.

Surface RT sales were most definitely also affected by the imminent arrival of the Pro version of Microsoft’s slate later this month.

This fact ultimately played a fair bit on the minds of businesses and enterprises looking to make the jump to tablets. The second member of the Surface family is powered by Windows 8 Pro and comes with support of desktop applications.

All these factors raise the question, should Microsoft have forsaken the ARM route altogether and instead focused on creating a midrange x86 (or x64) slate? Meaning, a device powered by Windows 8 with the ability run the nearly infinite library of legacy Windows applications?

What’s your say on this? Share your thoughts in the discussion below.

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  • Arnold

    No No NO NOOO, It is important to look forward at the ARM world as well. If they have to write these apps their damn self, then do it. The whole point is to be everywhere, Phones, ARM tablets, X86/X64 Slates, Kiosks with windows 8 embedded, Smart Watches, Smart Glasses, Coffee Your underwear, There, There, There

    • Peggy McLaughlin

      Hold on though. Windows 8 ARM (RT) doesn’t buy you anything. It doesn’t accomplish anything if few buy it. RT apps can’t run anywhere else. If they could have deployed an x86 tablet at the same price point – like the Surface Pro – they should have done that and left the wretched Surface alone.

      Most of what they have to offer against entrenched foes is compatibility with legacy Windows. That’s why ARM-based Windows 8 is getting few OEM takers and everyone’s sitting on the sidelines waiting for AFFORDABLE Windows 8 (x86) tablets. Sadly, that excludes Surface Po.